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Am I a slave to social media? 

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Lately I’ve realised that, once again, I’ve fallen into that habit of constantly checking my Facebook newsfeed and looking at everything through an Instagram lens. So as it’s half term and I really want to focus on my children and not my iPhone this week, I’m taking the rest of the month off. No social media for me until they’re all back at school and I can afford to waste time watching YouTube videos of cats who are afraid of cucumbers (although in all honesty, can I ever really afford to waste time watching YouTube videos of cats who are afraid of cucumbers??)

Part of this resolution stems from the fact that social media stresses me out! I’ve been doing a little low grade soul searching lately to figure out how to be happier; how to be calmer, less anxious and to embrace the much mused about art of mindfulness. I’ve started Tai chi and Pilates classes in a bid to use exercise and breathing techniques to help me relax. I’ve made a list of books I want to read before I’m forty to motivate myself to devote more time to quality reading instead of swiping through blog posts and the ASOS sale pages (the irony of writing a blog post about reading fewer blog posts is not lost on me by the way!) And I’ve tried to make space in my day to practise a bit of mindfulness meditation. It’s really not that easy though, both finding ten spare undisturbed minutes in the day AND training myself to think ‘mindfully’. My thoughts are constantly wandering to the extent that it sometimes feels as if I’m channel-hoping around my brain.

One of the side affects of my obsessive social-media-ing (I think it’s only a matter of time before ‘social-media-ing’ becomes a recognised verb) is that my attention span is appalling! (I can’t even write a sentence without punctuating it with an aside thought in brackets.) I find myself constantly craving screen time, not just when I’m flopped on the sofa trying to watch a film, but also when I’m in the middle of cooking dinner, when I’m stuck in a traffic jam and even when I pop to the loo for a quick wee. I’ve dropped my iPhone into the toilet twice this year so I really should have learnt my lesson by now!

The competitive and judgemental world of social media is also a stressful place to be. All too often I’ve felt abject disappointment when my photos haven’t achieved a respectable number of likes; or deeply anxious when I’ve realised that friends have made plans without me (hashtag FOMO!); or seriously pissed off by an innocuous comment on an Instagram post. Life is too short for this shit!

I’ve been here before – I’ve tried various Facebook fasts and an entire 40 days of abstaining from social media for Lent – so I’m really not trailblazing with this. But those experiences have always helped me to re-evaluate my social media addiction and take small steps to change my habits. The problem is, as any self-respecting addict knows, it’s so easy to fall off the wagon and I have done time and time again.

Friends have shared with me their own frustrations about their social media habits and at one point I was inspired to start some sort of Social Media Withdrawal Support group until I realised that the only place I could effectively advertise this would be on Facebook or Twitter. So until someone develops a social media withdrawal patch that I can stick to my arm to help wean me off my habit, or a Facebook-free gum that I can chew to distract me from my newsfeed, going cold turkey seems to be the only way. So here goes….

Hi, I’m Abbi…and it’s been 17 hours and 22 minutes since my last Facebook post…

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#100happydays – day 43

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My favourite Holloway hangout where sandwiches and service are second to none

I enjoyed a little but lovely happy moment today whilst waiting in line for my lunch. There’s a small and fairly unremarkable looking Turkish cafe on the Caledonian Road that, in my humble opinion, makes some of the best fresh sandwiches in North London. The cafe’s friendly and flirty manager seems to know everyone, if not by name by sandwich filling. And as I’m only ever in the area on a Tuesday (and because I don’t buy my lunch there every week) I’m always impressed by his ability to remember my order with perfect accuracy; chicken tikka with mint yoghurt on a poppyseed baguette with extra cucumber. Today the lunch queue was a long one and I found myself towards the back, sandwiched (chortle, chortle!) between an impatient man with a list that suggested he was ordering lunch for his entire office, and a trio of giggling, shrieking girls talking loudly to each other as they teetered on their heals. In the midst of my ‘should I stay or should I go?’ thoughts, my lovely Turkish ‘sandwichier’ caught my eye, gave me a wink and placed my freshly-made order on the counter, gesturing for me to step forward to claim my lunch. No one seemed to notice my unintentional queue jumping and I was in and out of the cafe in less than 3 minutes, thus arriving at work early and smugly satisfied, both nutritionally and logistically. How’s that for service!  

#100happydays – day 38

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1992 was a good year. I was in the upper sixth at college, everyone wore DMs and corduroy blazers (mostly bought from charity shops) and Green Day’s lyrics were gospel. I was also lucky enough to have the best group of mates ever. So fast forward 23 years to a time when most of those people still feature regularly and importantly in my life leaves me feeling luckier still. And what’s more, we now have an enormous gang of children between us and, in some cases, are godparents to one another’s offspring. Ah! (Sentimental is my middle name). So the 120 mile round trip to an overpriced gastro pub in trendy Twickenham today was completely worth it as I got to hang with my homies, have cuddles with my godson and listen to our next generation of little ones swap fashion tips over lunch (“I got new shoes”, “I like pink ones”, “I like peppa pig ones…”). 


#100happydays – day 34

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Today’s happy moment was a simple one. I was expecting a ‘signed for’ delivery of things I needed for the kids’ World Book day costumes on Thursday. To miss the delivery today (in the knowledge that I’m going to be at work all day tomorrow), would have lead to disappointed children and a stressful costume shortage. 

I got an early morning text with a tracking number that didn’t work and an estimated delivery slot of somewhere between 9am and 6pm. Seething, I left a post-it note on the front door pleading with the courier to the ring my neighbour’s doorbell if I was out. I then did the school run, the nursery drop off and the dog walk in a heightened state of stress before rushing home expecting to find a ‘Sorry we missed you’ card. There wasn’t one. Cue mini happy moment. Not daring to use the hoover in case it drowned out the doorbell, I had to sideline my housework for a heap of outstanding admin work. After lunch and still no delivery, I did a mad dash to the petrol station and post office before rushing home. Nothing! By 3pm I had to deem my pre-planned afternoon run as an ‘non-essential reason to leave the house’ so I defiantly began hoovering instead. And no sooner had my Dyson roared into life, the doorbell went and my much hyped delivery arrived. I almost kissed the courier. Happy moments come in all shapes and sizes it seems.


#100happydays – day 33

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My happy moment today came when we found out that Seb has been given a place at his first choice secondary school. His face was an absolute picture of delight and I was choked (& relieved) to tears. But as I didn’t get a snap shot of any of that, here’s one of me all cozy and warm, enjoying free rein of the double bed (my better half is away….missing you darling, of course….chuckle, chuckle!). Monday is done. Secondary school stress is done. I am done for today. Happy!